London's Presser Addresses Ducks

Virginia Head Coach Mike London held his weekly media conference on Monday, Sept. 2. London was asked a number of questions regarding the Caviliers' next opponent – the Oregon Ducks. Virginia and Oregon play Saturday, Sep. 7 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (Pacific).

Oregon plays its first road game in the Mark Helfrich-era. Helfrich was the former offensive coordinator for the Ducks and was promoted to the headman job when Chip Kelly departed for the Philadelphia Eagles. Scott Frost is now Oregon offensive coordinator.

Q. Just looking at Oregon on tape, do you see any clear weaknesses with them? What spots are you looking to try to get away with?
COACH LONDON: No, they're an excellent football team. Obviously, number one in the turnover margin last year. They didn't punt this past game, had over 700 yards of total offense, so there are a lot of things that they do that's predicated to the talent that they have and the system that's they use. They're clearly one of the best teams in college football right now. We are putting a plan together as we speak. The coordinators are putting it together, and we'll see how the week progresses, but obviously this is one of the best college football teams in the country, and we happen to have the chance to play them here in Charlottesville.

Q. Is there any sort of offensive benchmark that you need to get to in order to have a chance against Oregon? What did you like in particular about the offense, and what didn't you like?
COACH LONDON: I think we need to score more points than they do eventually. But you know there are some good things. You'd like to have had our ground game be present and prevalent most of the game. It showed up in spots. Obviously we have to do a better job on our third down situations. We were 6-for-20, and a couple of those were drops. Couple of those were -- they weren't efficient throws. We have to improve ourselves there. Because if you're off the field, you know, going 30 percent, third down, that means you're turning the ball back over to them. We had to do a better job of converting some third downs and keeping our offense on the field and trying to stretch the field more. But I think we've always talked about the second game being the game that you want improvement. And there are a lot of thing that's we can improve on from sideline management to substitution issues. But obviously, now you're playing a great football team, you're going to have to even raise that level of improvement to another level and that remains to be seen.

We're formulating a plan as we speak now and we'll move forward on to Saturday.

Q. Obviously Mark (Helfrich) was there, but did you notice anything different in the one game he played this year versus everything they did with Chip Kelly at Oregon before?
COACH LONDON: I think so. I think Scott Frost is the coordinator. He's up in the box. There is still a lot of influence that they've been having the last couple of years. They're still averaging I think last year 44.7 points a game. You still see that high-octane type of approach that Coach Frost has, but also with Mark. I think it's a culture they've been around that there is an expectation of how they play, how their offense plays. You really don't see a huge difference in maybe in the play calling part of it. But you see a lot of philosophy about quick plays. Get the ball in space. Actually they run the ball more than people think with a great tailback that they have. So I think it's about three of those explosive plays, which seems to be something that they do well. I think in this past game in seven minutes Oregon scored four touchdowns and a field goal. So they're putting points on the board. Those are the things that we have to be mindful of with the who and the what that's on the field. Also making sure that their tempo doesn't put us in a position where we're a detriment to trying to play well.

Q. How hard is it to get the scout team to run the plays correctly to give a good look to your defense?
COACH LONDON: You try to allow an efficient scout team to run the plays. But you also have to kind of reproduce the hurry-up element to it. So we may go in with some cards, have a few plays that the offense and scout team look at knowing they're going to run this play and that play. Hopefully trying to initiate some aggressiveness with that so they don't have to think as much. They'll probably go good on good as well. As I said, our offense uses elements of the no-huddle, quick-tempo as well. So we'll probably do some more good on good work than we've done in the past because of that alone.

Q. Were you able to look at what Stanford did at all to stop the Oregon offense? Was there anything you were able to take from it?
COACH LONDON: I think in this profession you make those phone calls to people that might have been on the staffs that played against them or people that know about their style. You do a lot of film study. I'm quite sure that Jon [Tenuta] and the rest of the coaches have called several people, asked about techniques of how to defend certain things. As I said, yesterday we watched BYU and we introduced Oregon to the team. Today is strictly a day with the players being off, we are dedicated to all of Oregon and finding out as much information as we can, and starting to formulate the game plan for our Tuesday practice.

It's trying to find the who, what, where, why, how and all those things.

Q. At what point do you try to tell the players they have to turn the page and go forward even after a big win?
COACH LONDON: Right in the locker room, right after -- we always have a little celebration of dousing each other with water and all that good stuff - yelling and getting it out right now - because after that, it was on to Oregon. You can't be complacent. You know, it was good to win another home opener. It was good to win a game, but we can't be satisfied, and we're not satisfied. We understand that there's a tremendous challenge in front of us, not just with this team, but other teams to come into Scott Stadium and for us to go on the road. So we'll have to rise to the challenge again.

Q. I don't have the numbers, and I'm sure you don't, but this is probably in your time here the biggest underdog game for UVa, do you challenge them with shocking the nation going into this game?
COACH LONDON: Why not? That's what college football is all about. Having the opportunities to play on those days that a lot of people say that you can't win. A lot of people said we wouldn't be able to beat BYU. And I know, no disrespect to BYU, I know Oregon is number two or number three in the country right now. So our mindset has to be one of we're playing at our place. We've got to bring energy and passion because we know they're an excellent football team. But instead of asking why, we ask why not?

Q. Bronco Mendenhall said the other day that he thought your defense was kind of gassed at the end of the first period, and, again, in the fourth period. Did you sense that? Was there not enough opportunities to substitute because, obviously, Oregon plays at probably a faster pace than that.
COACH LONDON: I guess you could look at it in that regards. There were a couple of series, particularly one they scored that they got after us a little bit. Then you go back and look, there were a lot of punts in this game. Someone was doing something right in regards to the conditioning out there. I looked out and they were getting tired as well.

Q. You mentioned Van Noy, it seemed like a couple times they were moving him over to go against (Jay) Whitmire. How do you think Jay, overall, held up in the game? Do tend to give him more help with the tight ends or running backs?
COACH LONDON: It depends. Obviously, with Van Noy and you look at other college games, Clowney, all those guys, you see sometimes running backs chip. You know, they'll rush it before they go out. You see the tight end, the off the line position that if he is rushing on the outside, he chips and then releases. So we try to do a couple things to help Jay if that occurred. Sometimes you full line slide and make sure if he goes on the inside move and the guard can help him as well. We always said you try to find who and what can wreck the game for you, and obviously, Van Noy is one of those type of guys. But you're right.

Jay did an admirable job, and he can continue to get better as well. We need him to do better.

Q. Does Oregon have a (Kyle) Van Noy type of guy?
COACH LONDON: When you see them play, they're a tall, lanky, athletic team. They look like the Green Bay Packers, you know? But that's part of who they are. Their team forces a lot of turnovers. They score a lot of touchdowns. And their two corners are probably the two best corner tandems in college football. Those are some of the thing that's we're going to have to make sure we pay particular attention to is the ability of their linemen. Kind of the 3-4 defense we'll see it again. But they can run. Their whole team can run.

I've said it before, and I mean this, the guy that goes to get the tee after the kickoff is really fast, and their whole team is fast. We'll have to be ready for that.

Q. Because you opened up with BYU and Oregon, has that made the off-season any different in terms of conditioning with an extra emphasis on certain things that was different than in years past?
COACH LONDON: That's a great point. When you saw the schedule coming out, Evan Marcus, those wheels started turning in his head about how to condition the players, how to lift. Doing more things predicated on endurance. I think that as much as you try to simulate that, you do the best you can, and then you've got to play the game. As the question was asked earlier, I thought that there were parts in the game that they may have got us and gassed us a little bit. But at the end of the game, when it was time to put pressure on the quarterback and those eight incompletions and getting the quarterback, I think the guys rose to the occasion. The other thing is at halftime when we took our pads off, they were hydrating. They ate nutritional things, just kept that energy level. Our training room, our strength and conditioning coach, just a culmination of so many things over the summer, that everyone played a part into the recovery, the ability for the endurance, just all of those things. And the crowd that came back, I was so psyched up to see the crowd come back. I mean, I just think this is one of those games that everything just fit and just works itself into its proper place, and we came out on top.

Q. Beyond game planning and getting ready for another opponent, what do you say to these guys about 772 yards or 500 yards of rushing? It seems to be more athletic than scheme. It's not like Georgia Tech – do you just avoid the number 772? What do you do with that?
COACH LONDON: No, everyone knows it, and they see it. They've got all-stars on their team. They've got guys that have been successful for a while, you know? The only thing you do is try to minimize the things that would make it worse, and that is creating penalties yourself. That's not being in the right gap. If you're going to get beat, they beat you physically, or they beat you because the guy is faster than you or you're in the wrong spot or you fill the wrong gap or you didn't do what you're supposed to do as far as blocking assignments. So the thing we need to do is take care of ourselves first and find strategies by using as I said, one of the best coaching staffs over there at the McCue center. To find ways to maximize what we need to do in order to give us a chance.

Q. (Marcus) Mariota is one of his team's most dangerous runners as the quarterback. How difficult is he to prepare for?
COACH LONDON: When you have the element of the spread or the pistol where you have a talented running back in itself, you have to assign a guy to the running back, but you also have to assign a guy to the quarterback. Like Georgia Tech's offense, that you can have a guy assigned to that guy, but he's athletic enough to make you miss. So if the guy assigned to him makes you miss, then you've got problems. That's what they do. And that's what they have a team full of guys that are playmakers like that. So very assignment oriented for us. We've got to be on point. You know, this may lead to stuff, like I said, to having more speed on the field and maybe perhaps playing more players. But he does provide a difficult challenge for a defense that has an offense that spreads the field and challenges you vertically and horizontally.

The questions came from various media members and the questions and answer transcripts are available at www.virginiasports.com


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